Showing posts with label other systems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label other systems. Show all posts

Friday, January 12, 2024

Kickstart Your Weekend: Coven & Crucible: Unbound

 I participated in the Kickstarter for Coven & Crucible, and the core book is still on my desk, begging me to review it. Well, in the meantime, here is the first expansion!

Coven & Crucible: Unbound

Coven & Crucible: Unbound

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/13thmoongames/coven-and-crucible-unbound?ref=theotherside

From the campaign page:

Coven & Crucible is a game set in a world where magic, witches, supernatural creatures, magical animals and more exist. Magic is cast by witches: people who have studied and learned how to work it. Anyone can be a witch, but it takes knowledge and discipline, akin to martial arts or cooking or programming or any other skill.

About Unbound

  • 13 New Houses + Expanded Lore on the original 9 houses from the corebook.
  • 100+ new NPCs, magical creatures and supernatural beings.
  • 50+ of brand new magical traits.
  • Expanded information on the various planes of existence (mundane, astral, infernal, internet, etc.).
  • 6 high level scenarios to run, as well as dozens of plot hooks and encounters.

And much, much more!   


It looks great and the Core rules are fun. I just need to do more with them.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Mail Call: More Witches!

 Yeah...I am obsessed. Mail call today, and it was full of some great witch books.

Up first, another witch-centric RPG I backed on Kickstarter, Last Sabbath.

Last Sabbath RPG

Last Sabbath RPG

Last Sabbath RPG

Last Sabbath RPG Art, bookmark and pin
Last Sabbath RPG Art, bookmark and pin

The game looks phenomenal, and I want to try it out really soon.

And one I have been waiting 20+ years for.

The Bewitching Hour

Ashley Poston has a novel out about 17-year-old Tara, one of my all-time favorite witches. 

This is her pre-Sunnydale days, and I can't wait to jump into this.  And because I had a credit lying around, I picked it up on Audible as well.

The Bewitching Hour Audiobook

While I am sure the narrator will be great, it would have been nice to get Amber Benson to do it.

--

So yeah I *know* I am obsessed, and I know I catch some grief for it online, but you know what? 

I don't actually care.

This is my little corner of the Internet, and I get to do what I love here. And if that gets me 10 fans or 10,000*, then fantastic! Plenty of other sites out there that leave me scratching my head asking "who would even find that fun??" but hey, their sites, their rules. 

To quote Steve Martin, "The most amazing thing to me is, I get paid for doing this!"


(*It is less than 10,000, but a lot more than 10!)


Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Interview with the Witches of Midnight Team

Another great Kickstarter coming up this week, in fact live by the time you read this. 

Witches of Midnight

Witches of Midnight

This one caught my eye a while back. I have read over the draft rules, and there is a lot here to digest.

While doing that, I will share an interview with the Witches of Midnight Team and let them tell you about this game.

Tim Brannan/The Other Side: It is my pleasure today to be interviewing the team that is currently Kickstarting a new Witch-based RPG and Tarot deck, “Witches of Midnight” which you can find here, 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/balsamicgames/witches-of-midnight-ttrpg-and-tarot-deck?ref=theotherside 

Before we get into all the questions, please introduce yourself and tell us your role on this team.

Witches of Midnight

WoM Gavin: Hi, I'm Gavin (they/them). I'm the lead developer, official Lore Weaver, and a co-author of Witches of Midnight. I've been developing tabletop games since 1993 (using the RandInt() function on a TI-84 Plus), but this is the first project that I've felt compelled to publish.

WoM Andrea: Hi, I'm Andrea (she/they). I'm the creative lead and a co-author of Witches of Midnight. This is my first project, but one very close to my heart. I am a practicing witch myself so it is really important to do right by all witches while designing this game.


TB/TOS: Fantastic! What are some of your favorite games? Why?

WoM: Our favorite games include: A Fistful of Darkness, Scum and Villainy, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, Earthdawn,  Court of Blades, Brinkwood, Under the Autumn Strangely, Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Vampire: Dark Ages.

We really like dark storytelling games with a supernatural element (what a surprise).


TB/TOS: So, tell us a bit about this game and what backers should be looking forward to when they get it.

WoM: Witches of Midnight is a modern "hopeful horror" narrative storytelling tabletop game that gives you all the tools you'll need to tell epic stories of witchcraft.

Midnight is a city shrouded in magical darkness that calls to witches from every corner of the planet. The Order will stop at nothing to register your abilities and take your greatest power, Wyld Magic.

The Kickstarter will include a 200+ page stand-alone core rulebook, a 100 card tarot deck and guidebook, and a set of six custom six-sided dice. We're also offering a “Powered by Witchcraft” enamel pin for anyone who pledges at a physical reward tier in the first 24 hours.


TB/TOS: What do you all feel makes Witches of Midnight different from games currently on the market? What do you say makes it special? Or, bottom line, why should people want to buy this game?

WoM: Our game is different because it centers witches.. few other games do. Also, our Witches have been "out of the broom closet" and a major part of society for over 400 years. The world is both very similar to ours and very different. We detail out those differences quickly in just a few pages of lore.

We also put a big focus on photography to really bring our Factions and major NPCs to life.

Additionally, we have added a lot of new rules to the Forged in the Dark ecosystem with Witches of Midnight. I'll just mention a few that we are particularly excited about.

All Witches have a Familiar. You can shift between playing as your character and their familiar at will during any game session. We've even done a few "all Familiar" Undertakings which were a ton of fun.

Our magic system is robust and exciting even when you use spells exactly as they are written, but you're also able to Boost spells by spending additional Essence on 4 parameters across a 13 point Magnitude scale.

Lastly, Wyld Magic is a reality-bending burst of spontaneous spellwork that any character may attempt. This could be used to teleport your covenmates to safety, animate an army of the dead, or even to melt faces (like the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark). But you must be willing to face potentially devastating arcane complications if you fail. And even if you succeed, the hunt begins! 

WoM Andrea: From a player’s perspective our setting allows for any style of coven you can imagine. You are not locked into only playing super serious witches. You can play anything from Owl House style coven to a Salem style coven. 

Forged in the Dark

TB/TOS: Why Forged in the Dark as your game system? 

WoM: When we first started development, we liked how Forged in the Dark games focused on the Crew over the individual. We felt like that was perfect for a Coven.

Later, we realized that Forged in the Dark games also teach lessons in the importance of Consent and Intentional action, and those things are very important aspects of witchcraft.

We also discovered that the concept of Retirement (a FitD game mechanic by which a veteran character takes a less active role in their coven) had a lot of untapped potential, so we really ran with that subsystem and added many new Retirement options based on two new character stats that are tracked throughout a campaign.

We like the simplicity of the rules and that failure can be as much fun as success. You can't say that about most TTRPGs.

Heritages

TB/TOS: Talk to me a bit more about the Grimoires and Heritages, outside of their Forged in the Dark origins. Grimoires feel a bit like what I would call a Tradition or a type of witchcraft.

WoM: We would call a Grimoire your "magical specialty". We are launching with 22 Grimoires (called Playbooks in other Forged in the Dark games) which is a lot, and we have 6 more planned as Stretch Goals for the Kickstarter.

Contrast that with Casting Style, the method by which you use magic. This would include traditions, faith and spirituality, but also any specifics of casting you might choose such as using tools or gestures and incantations. Any complication that arises from your Casting Style also acts as an XP trigger.

Heritage refers to a character's immortal bloodline. Each player gets to choose their character's Heritage traits, and those traits are malleable over the course of a campaign. You might start as an Asterian (Minotaur blood) with no visible Heritage traits or you could start the game looking like you just stepped out of the labyrinth.


TB/TOS: You say Players can use their own casting style with their characters. How do you see that working?

WoM: We were very conscious, as practitioners ourselves, of not implying that spells must be cast a certain way, or with a certain faith or set of beliefs. Casting Style is our way of handing that control over to the player. We hope that it will provoke conversations between players about the differences between open and closed practices and lead to a better understanding of witchcraft for everyone.


TB/TOS: What sorts of games do you see others playing with these rules? In other words, what can players do in this game?

WoM: When your group makes a Coven (a Session Zero activity when you are also introduced to the game's safety tools) you choose what Factions are Allies and Rivals as well as a question that your Coven wants to work toward answering and what themes you want to explore in that story.

With 22 Factions in Midnight, you'll have nearly infinite options. There are many congregations of bound witches with their own goals and endgame, witch hunters (both subtle and overt), elder-god worshiping apocalypse cults, several factions of fae creatures (each with their own inscrutable goals), religious fanatics and a magically empowered military.

Additionally, we will offer a few curated storylines for you to choose from (subject to change as we are working on them now): Solving mysteries in a hate-free magical academy, explorers trying to map the various realms of the Underworld and a coven focused on radical environmental protection.


TB/TOS: Who would you say Witches of Midnight is for?

WoM: We intended the game for a mature audience who are interested in telling stories about magic.

It's for anyone who has felt like witches are an afterthought in most TTRPGs.

It's also for people who are new to the hobby or felt like they weren't welcome at a gaming table. We tried to make Witches of Midnight inclusive and easy to learn for new players. Most of our playtesters hadn't played a TTRPG before and enjoyed it so much they are still playtesting with us nearly 70 sessions later!

Most of all, this game is for players who want to take charge of their destiny and really leave their mark on Midnight.


TB/TOS: What are your future plans for this game?

WoM: We are already working with a couple of other authors, translators and editors to release expansions that localize the game to other parts of the world and introduce their cultural experiences with witchcraft to our game's audience. These expansions would each include several new Grimoires, Factions, interesting Casting Style details and possibly even new Heritages.

Oslo, Mexico, Deseret and Appalachia are some of the possible locations we hope to explore if the Kickstarter is very successful.

We might also branch out into other types of supernatural creatures in the future, but that is a long way off.

We plan to continue to stream our playtest sessions on Twitch every other Tuesday with our ultra-queer cast on https://twitch.tv/BalsamicGames


TB/TOS: And finally, for the benefit of my audience, well, and me, who are all of your favorite witches or magic-using characters?

WoM Andrea: Lilith and Baba Yaga. We like to play on the darker side of things.

WoM Gavin: I really love the new iteration of Sabrina (Chilling Adventures) and Eda from The Owl House. But to be completely honest and really date myself, Orko from He-Man is the best.


TB/TOS: And where can we find you all on the internet?

WoM: We have a welcoming and inclusive witchy Discord run by Issa Belladonna. We welcome anyone to join us at https://tinyurl.com/JoinBalsamicGamesDiscord


Witches of Midnight // Balsamic Games


Friday, January 27, 2023

Kickstart Your Weekend: Coven & Crucible

I have not done one of these in a while. My efforts this year are going to be to support smaller publishers. This seems like a good one.

Coven & Crucible: a game of magic and witchcraft

Coven & Crucible


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/113795344/coven-and-crucible-a-game-of-magic-and-witchcraft?ref=theotherside

You know I love witches, and this game is all about them!  It is also a d12-based system, so you know I love that.  Plus it is set in an alternate version of Chicago where witches hang out in coffee shops! So how can I really say no?

You can read all about on their Kickstarter page. The important details for me though are the game is written and playtested, it just needs to go to layout and printing.

I would love to learn more about the publisher, Thirteenth Moon Games, but they do not seem to have a social media presence and their website is not up.

Still, though, it looks rather fun. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Larina for Witchblood

Witchblood
Today is October 25th, the day I traditionally observe as the "birthday" of my first real witch character Larina.  Since I rolled her up in 1986 she is now 36 years old! Not too bad really.  I thought she might be a perfect character to try out for Witchblood. I reviewed this game just this past Sunday to start my last full week of #100DaysOfHalloween

The Game: Witchblood

This is a new game from Rose Bailey, (author of the great "Die For You" RPG), Benjamin Baugh ("The Shadow of Golgotha" with Bailey), and Jacqueline Bryk (lots of Onyx Path titles). While reviewing it I knew I wanted to build some characters right away. The only downside for me is that character building for this game is best done with all the players in Session 0 so everyone knows what they are doing and how all the characters work together.

I don't have that luxury here and now, but at least using a character I know so well makes some choices easier. So I printed out my sheets and hit Chapter II: Wanderers and went through the extremely easy Character Creation process.

I knew some things up front. Larina was a Witchblood and a Wise One. But there were still things for me to discover about a character I have known for 36 years.

The Character: Larina Nix

In Witchblood you start with your name, your Birthright, and your Calling. You Birthrighe sets your points for the Identity pairs of Patience-Cunning (Mental Identities), Vigor-Grace (Active Identities), and Understanding-Persuasion Spiritual Identities).  

Your Calling sets your points for dual Quality pairs of Generosity-Selfishness and Demonstration-Observation, Courage-Wrath and Endurance-Defiance, and Trust-Faith and Honesty-Deceit.  These points can change in the course of the game. Sometimes rapidly and often. Always due to the nature of what is going on around them (these changes are called Slides).

For Larina here, these were easy choices for me. Her Birthright is Witchblood and her Calling is Wise One. For her Profile, I went back to her early incarnations as a lone solitary witch so the Stranger seemed like a good one.

Next, I added her bonus dots/points. I get to raise my Birthright or Calling by +1, I picked Calling since the earliest versions of Larina always had her hearing the "Call of the Goddess" at an early age.  I get +3 points for Identities but none can be raised over 3. All my pairs had one 3 in them, so that meant just adding to the ones with only one in them. I kept her Patience at 1 and moved Understanding to 3.  Lastly, for points, I get +5 points for Qualities. These were distributed across all six pairs. Finally I calculate my Violence Potential, which is a 9. This is mostly used in combat situations. 

What does this give me?  Well, I am actually rather pleased with it.

Larina in a purple dress
Larina y Diamynedd, art by me 
Larina Nix

"The Witch of the Wood," "y Diamynedd (The Impatient)"

Birthright 3
Calling 2
Profile: The Stranger

Patience 1 / Cunning 3

Generosity 3 / Selfishness 1

Demonstration 1 / Observation 2

Vigor 2 / Grace 3

Courage 2 / Wrath 2

Endurance 2 / Defiance 3

Understanding 3 / Persuasion 3

Trust 1 / Faith 2

Honesty 3 / Deceit 1

Violence Potential: 9

Traits

She knows,

  • the speech of the higher animals, though they owe you no fealty.
  • the best paths through the wilds your witch dwells in, such as the forests, glaciers, or deserts.
  • appropriate gifts to attract the attention of most supernatural beings.

  • the difference between illness, poison, and curses.
  • how long a wounded or injured person has to live.
  • herbal or other remedies for common illnesses, poisons, and curses.

Liar’s Magic
Awaken the Wilds
Fulfill Fate

Predict Weather
Treat Wounds
Ward Curse

Stranger Prompts

What do they call you?
  Larina y Diamynedd (The Impatient one)

What do you do?
  I travel to learn more about the nature of magic

Why do you stand out?
   People can tell there is something off about me. Even when they can't see my witchmark on my left wrist.

Why can’t you go home?
   My home burned. I have nothing and no one left.

What have you picked up on your travels?
   Knowledge of the world and friends. 

Why do you travel with companions?
   They are my found family. People who accept me for who and what I am.

Why are you dangerous to your companions?
   There is a darkness that follows me. Whatever gave me my magic is jealous of my attention.

Why do you interfere?
   Because I must. Not everyone in this world has my gifts and the world is not just.

--

OK! I like this. In fact, I like it so much these sheets might get stapled to my D&D version of her as a role-playing guide. 

Now to find a group to play with!

Oh. And Happy Birthday Larina. 36 looks good on you!

Sunday, October 23, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Witchblood

Witchblood
I have reached the end of all the adventures I have on hand for War of the Witch Queens and before I pivot onto my next, and last series for this #100DaysOfHalloween, I really wanted to do something special. I had not found anything perfect yet. I had about four or five different ones that I kept rotating through.

Then I was contacted by Rose Bailey. The author of the great "Die For You" RPG, which I reviewed five years ago to this date in fact. That, and what her game does makes it the perfect choice for today's #100DaysOfHalloween.

Starting today and through the rest of these till Halloween I am moving my posting to the day and exploring the topics in more detail.

Witchblood

PDF. 237 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.

There is a hardcover option for this book, but I do not have it. Yet. 

I knew this game was going to be good when I started reading it. First off the authors list Howard's Conan and Tanith Lee's "Kill the Dead." Seriously. I LOVE Kill the Dead. I love Tanith Lee. We are off to a great start. Also listed are Russian Folk Tales and Gimm's Fairy Tales.  Also mentioned is Ron Edward's Sorcerer, a game I do rather enjoy.

Rules Basics

Ok we learn that this game is based on One Roll Engine.  Knowledge of that game is not needed here, which is good because while I know it I have never played it.

This is a character focused game so we are going to focus on that.  All characters (called Wanderers here, more on that) have Identities and Qualities. Identies come in pairs and characters have three of them. They are numbered from 0 to 5.  This is a dice pool game where you will roll a number of d10 based on the Identities and one of the Qualities. So anywhere between 3 and 10 dice. Successes, Critical successes and failures are also detailed. 

The Fiction

The world of Witchblood is the Forrest. A giant forest that covers an area about the size of Europe, which tech levels about late 18th early 19th century. Ok another plus for me.  The game discusses how to being to create the world.the 

The game is divided into this Basic Introduction, the Player's Guide, and  Storyteller's Guide.

Player's Section

Chapter 1: We start here with some background setting fiction to get a feel for this world. It sets the mood and stage well. For me it already feels familiar.  I have seen this world before. No. Not in print, but it is the world you see in fairy tales.

Chapter 2: Character creation follows.  The characters are known as Wanderers, people who wander the world to learn more about their world and themselves. You build a character in 6 steps. 1. Name and Concept, 2. Birthright. 3. Calling. 4. Profile. 5. Bonuses. 6. Finishing touches. 

Each Birthright is like your species or race. We have Changeling, Commoner, Ghostborn, Noble, Troll, Witchblood (thus the name), and Zver.  Each gets two pages and helps decide your Indenties and advancement paths. 

Callings are like classes or professions though they go deeper than that. They are the Balladeer, Devoted, Fortune Teller, Robber, Sellsword, Trader, and Wise One. Birthright is balanced against Calling. 

Chapter 3: We get the section on Identies and Qualities. Identities as mentioned before are in pairs, Patience and Cunning, Vigor and Grace, Understanding and Persuasion.  These are subdivided into two more pairs. For example Patience and Cunning also has aspects Generosity and Selfishness and Demonstration and Observation. 

Points in these allow the characters to perform actions.  

Chapter 4 covers these actions. The identies and qualities give you points that you then roll d10s. Roll these and look for matches or sets. So things like riding a horse in a dangerous situation would be Graceful Endurance. Just riding a horse would need no to roll.  Various sorts of rule situations are covered.

Chapter 5 is the chapter on Magic. Magic here is not the organized magic of D&D. Its not even the emotional but structured magic of say Mage. Magic is, in the words of this book, bloody, blunt, and feral. There are many ways magic can manifest. There is "Petty Magic" or minor magics and anyone with a supernatural birthright can have Petty Magics.  Charms are things you can pick up along the way and allow characters to do things others can't. Hunches are ways the characters can manipulate magic around them into effects.  They are not something the character "does" but rather "discovers."  Divination, Pacts,  Lineage and Deeds, Sorcerery, Spoiling,  Gifts and Shapeshifting are all magical talents that have their own means of working.  The variety here is amazing and paints a picture of a world steeped in magic.

Storytelling Section

Chapter 6: This starts our Storytelling section or GMs section. It explains again that this world is largely a combination of two genres; pulp fantasy and fairy tales. This first chapter goes over the elements of these two genres and how the designers break the down the themes and rebuild them in the world of Witchblood. It is an interesting breakdown of both genres and what makes them work.   

We also get some Storytelling tips. There is section on NPCs like Companions, or characters essential to the Wanderers and how they fit into the story, and Locals, or the NPCs that don't interact all the time with the Wanderers. Antagonists are those NPCs that work against the Wanderers. So exactly what they sound like.  Each of these types get their motivations defined. A good guide for any game really.  

Given the nature of magic in this world/game, Enchantments are the NPCs of magic.  They are continuing or permanent magics. So Sleeping Beauty's sleeping curse is a good example of what this sort of thing is.  They are defined more or less like other NPCs. Now this is a FANTASTIC idea. 

Chapter 7: Covers "The Village" or "Where the Mild Thing Are." Ok that is a bit glib on my part. It is about where the humans live.  This covers the various people living in the "Village." There are various roles like Butcher, Miller, Fisher and so on.  There are also people outside the Village, like Bandits, Creeping Trees (LOVE THIS), Predators and so on.

We get themes going on in the Village, like Abuse of Authority, Domestic Violence, Human Sacfrice and more.  This can be a dark game if you choose. 

Chapter 8: Encounters. This covers what is in the Woods outside Village. What I love about this is everything I wanted to be here, is here; So Spirits, Ghosts, and Witches. And things I didn't like The Aunts, the Burned Man, the Dead Robbers, the Hearteater, the Mancutter and more. 

This chapter is great. These encounters are so well detailed and thought out that I would love to add them to other games. Just so much flavor here.

--

This game is so rich in flavor and depth. I once said that even in D&D I don't explore dungeons, I explore characters. This is one of the better character exploration games. The Villiage, the Forest, even the Burned Man and the Mayor. They are all there for the sole purpose of exploring your character.  Think about the fairy tales you know, most are named for the lead character. This is what we have here. 

This game lets you do that. And to do that there is plenty of adversity here. Not just in terms of the features in the Woods but in the themes you are expected to explore. Not all of them will be comfortable or nice. It is Grimdark, but not always nihilistic. Characters work towards making things better OR at least that is their expectation.  In many ways this makes things much darker than say Dungeon Crawl Classics (no slight on DCC).

This would be a great game for a group of good friends to explore. I also think it is a good game for people to use to explore different aspects of themselves. I talked about notions where the characters we make are different extensions of our own psyche. For example my Paladin character Johan is a manifestation of a Freudian Super-Ego and my Witch character Larina is a manifestation of my Jungian Anima. Just to add some armchair psychology to it. This game would do the same.  

The game is fantastic and I am going to have to come back to it later this week.  Maybe create a character.

There is not a ton of art (though the cover is fantastic), but I don't see this as a negative thing. Reading this reminded me of a book of fairy tales and legends I had as a kid where the only art was on the chapter pages. It invoked that same feeling in me and that is likely exactly what the designers wanted.

This not a game to do in an afternoon and be done. This one should be played a few times. I would even suggest on a regular interval; much like you read to your children before bedtime every night, this should be done at the same time in the same place. Really get that feeling you are leaving this world and move into one that sits in that liminal place between dreams and nightmares and being awake.

Can't wait to explore it more.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Review: The Dark Eye

The Dark Eye
I have known about this game for a while, both The Dark Eye and the original German Das Schwarze Auge. I always wanted to own the original German, having taken German in both high school and college, but not using a language for, well longer than I care to admit, you lose it. Das tut mir leid.

The Dark Eye always attracted me as a sort of darker fantasy RPG.  A game where Mirkwood is replaced by the Black Forest.  

I picked the 2nd Printing of the English edition at my local game auction.  I grabbed the core rules and a bunch of add-ons that I suspect came from Kickstarter. There is a lot and it all looks so good. There is even a basic QuickStart.

The Dark Eye - Core Rules

Hardcover & PDF. 414 pages. Full-color cover and interior art (and all of it is gorgeous).

For the purposes of this review, I am considering both my hardcover version and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

There is so much about this book and game that I love. Before I go into my deep dive I want to say that this game is wonderfully crunchy; this is not a rules-light game. BUT, and I can't stress this enough, it works so well here.  This easily could have come across as an artifact of the mid-80s with some early 2000s notions added on, but it doesn't. It actually all holds together rather well. I can well imagine that this is what D&D would have been like if instead of the wilds of Wisconsin it grew up in the wilds of Germany.  In both cases, the beer and brats would have been good. The adventuring world, Aventuria (and I will be discussing that more), is a dark place but the characters seem lighter for it. It is a nice antidote for the "Grimdark" worlds where the characters are equally grim. 

Chapter 1: Introduction 

This chapter gives us the basics of the game including what an RPGs are. We also get some background on the adventuring land of Aventuria including the lands of Middenrealm and surrounding lands. There is a nice map too. We get a brief on all the gods and demigods and even the five major dragons of the world. 

Chapter 2: Basic Rules

Covers what it says, basic rules. The game mostly uses d6s and d20s. There are eight attributes; Courage (Cou), Sagacity (Sag), Intuition (Int), Charisma (Cha), Dexterity (Dex), Agility (Agl), Constitution (Con), and Strength (Con). Remember I said it was wonderfully crunchy. Attribute checks are rolled on a 1d20, rolling under their score. Pretty easy. There are modifiers to these rolls as to be expected. A roll of "1" is a success and "20" is a botch.  If a modifier ever brings an attribute below "1" then it can't be attempted. This chapter also covers the basic of Skill checks and combat. 

There are also various Conditions, like confusion, pain, paralysis and so on that also modify various rolls and even combat and movement. 

I think this great to have all of this up front since it helps with the Character Creation section next.

Chapter 3: Hero Creation

This chapter details character creation. There are 15 steps outlined. Sounds like a lot, but character creation is quite detailed. It is a 4-page character sheet after all. There are many human cultures that provide some roleplaying differences and some mechanical ones. Additionally, there are Elven and Dwarven cultures too. By Step 5 we are getting to allocating points to our Attributes. Going pretty fast so far. This is a point-buy system and like many modern RPGs you can set caps on attributes and the total number of points.  You can choose a Profession (detailed in Chapter 6), as well as choosing Advantages and Disadvantages. You can then modify abilities, calculate combat techniques, choose any special abilities, calculate your derived characteristics, buy equipment, choose your starting age and name. 

There are some sample characters given and some details of how they were made. With all these cultures, professions, advantages, and disadvantages you can make a wide variety of characters. 

I created one for a Character Creation Challenge last year, the process was long but really fun.

Chapter 4: Races

This gets into detail on the races available to us. In addition to the Humans, Elves and Dwarves we have met there are also Half-Elves (who use elf or human culture).

Chapter 5: Cultures

Cultures are the more important aspect of your character's background. So there is more on culture than on race. The cultures are highly detailed and have some Earth analogues, but not exact copies which is nice. 

Toad Witch
Chapter 6: Professions

These are the "classes" of The Dark Eye. And there are a lot of them here. They are divided into three types, Mundane, Magical, and Blessed.

Mundanes include Bard, Courtier, Gladiator, Guard, Healer, Hunter, Knight, Mercenary, Merchant, Performer, Rogue, Sailor, Spy, Tribal Warrior, and Warrior. 

Magical professions are: Spellweaver, Wyldrunner, Cat Witch, Raven Witch, Toad Witch (three witches!), Black Mage, Gray Mage, Guildless Mage, and White Mage.

Blessed professions are your cleric and religious types. They are: Blessed One of Boron, Blessed One of Hesinde, Blessed One of Peraine, Blessed One of Phex, Blessed One of Praios, and Blessed One of Rondra. Or, the various gods of the land, but not all of them.

Chapter 7: Advantages and Disadvantages

This covers the same lists found in character creation, but much more detail.

I am a huge fan of Advantages and Disadvantages. We used them all the time in Unisystem and became a great mechanic. I would love to see them ported over to D&D in someway.  But I guess modern D&D has feats, so there is that. These are great here and hit all the ones I expect to see.

Chapter 8: Skills and Chapter 9: Combat

Both chapter deal with how to run skills, non-combat, and combat respectively.  Chapter 8, like Chapter 7, provide more detail than what was presented in Character Creation, Chapter 3.

Chapter 10: Magic

My favorite part of any fantasy RPG is Magic. This one is no exception. In the Dark Eye we have two basic methods of controlling arcane power, Spellcasting and Rituals. 

Now various spell-casting checks rely on different combinations of attributes, so no one mage is going to be great at everything unless all their attribute are high. Point-buy mostly assures this won't happen. Magic is a highly detailed affair, as to be expected. So one magic-using class is certainly not like the other. 

There are rules for traditions, artifacts, illusions. Just tons of details here. It is certainly one of the most robust magic systems I have seen in a while. Even elves have a complete different set of magics. 

And of course, there are spell listings. 

Chapter 11: Works of the Gods

This is similar to the Magic chapter, but for the Blessed Ones.  The magic here has different mechanics as to be expected really. While the "Spells" are largely similar format (for ease of reading) they feel very different.

Chapter 12: Detailed Rules

Covers all sorts of other rules. Healing, disease, poisons, heat and cold, and gaining experience. Also how Arcane Energy and Karma are replenished. 

Chapter 13: Bestiary

Usually, my next favorite chapter after Magic and this one is great.  We get all sorts of demons, elementals, animals, and familiars listed here. Obviously room for much more. The monsters are built like characters, so have similar statblocks.

Chapter 14: Equipment

All the gear your characters will need.

Chapter 15: Game Tips

Both tips for the Players and the GMs. Kudos to them showing apples as the game snack.

Appendix

This includes a checklist for optional rules (with page numbers), common abbreviations, and tables.

There is just SO MUCH with this game.

The Dark Eye RPG

I am overjoyed AND overwhelmed with all the options.  I can easily see why this game is so popular here and in Germany.  It is a game I would love to do more with. There is just so much material to be had, both to buy and for free. There is even a Community Content section for fan-produced works.

I could spend another year with it and still be finding something new. My only regret is not having anyone I can play this one with.  

Well. I suppose I will mine it for ideas.

This game will not be everyone's cup of tea, but it will be the perfect game out there for some groups.

Monday, August 29, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Children of Midnight: Coven Quickstart

Children of Midnight: Coven Quickstart
A bit of a different game tonight. Felt I needed a bit of a palate cleanser. The DriveThruRPG page says "Children of Midnight: Coven Quickstart is a gender inclusive urban fantasy Forged in the Dark table-top game. Players take the roles of Wyld Witches and their Familiars who form a Coven for mutual support in a dark and harsh modern world."   Sounds interesting. Let's get to it.

As always, to stay objective I will be following my rules for these reviews.   

Children of Midnight: Coven Quickstart

PDF. You get six files with this:

  •  GM Session Notes
  •  Quickstart Consent Form
  •  Starting Undertaking
  •  Quickstart GM Cheat Sheet
  •  Children of Midnight Coven Quickstart Grimoire
  •  Children of Midnight Coven Quickstart v1.3

In order, the GM Session Notes are exactly that, a form for recording sessions.   The Consent form is similar to others I have seen before. Green, Yellow and Red indicators on what all the players think on various topics. Starting Undertaking is a three page document with an overview/background on the game rules and the world.  Quickstart GM Cheat Sheet is a 6 page PDF with various guidelines and rolls used in the game.  Children of Midnight Coven Quickstart Grimoire is a colorful 2 page character sheet.

Children of Midnight Coven Quickstart is the game proper. This is a 40 page PDF.  It uses a system called Forged in the Dark that I am not entirely familiar with. The authors are Gavin and Áine Moore. For 40 pages there is a lot of material here. The font is a little small, but I can put this on a larger monitor than what I am using now. 

There is an absolute ton going on in this game. There is lore. There are detailed NPCs with photos and social media. I honestly feel I need to do some more research into this game before I can even properly review it.  So since this is a quickstart, I feel a quicky review right now is good. But really there is a lot of promise here.

To get a better feel I'll certainly need to play it, but I like what I am seeing so far.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Monday, August 22, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Rebirth: Caine and Lilith

Rebirth: Caine and Lilith

Another Lilith to consider tonight. This time for a D6 game.

I had this desire a while back to give the D6 system a try. I was thinking of something to do with vampires, and likely include Dracula and Lilith.  So I bought this back then. 

Sadly I never got out of the "wow this would be cool" phase.

Rebirth: Caine and Lilith

This supplement is for the Shadow Sprawl D6 RPG.  It says it uses the Epic D6 system but if you are familiar with any D6 system then you can figure this one out.

It is set in a world like our own but ... you get the idea. Hey. No stones being cast by me, this is a world I come back to time and time again both to play and design games for.  Right on down to the Morpheus font on the cover.  

This supplement adds a number of new features to the game, in particular things from the history of vampires in this game.  Since they are taking the "Cain route" here there are a few pre-historic weapons added.

We get backgrounds and stats for Caine and Lilith.  Caine was made into a vampire by Lilith.   Also we get some of Abel's line including a son and his wife.  Also there are dryads here for reasons I am not entirely sure of.

There is a quick start for the game playing in this prehistoric time when Cain and Lilith still prowled the night. So a nice touch there. 

Several points for some new ideas, but some other ideas have been done many times before.   Still though, a fun read.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Sunday, July 24, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Covens

Covens
Another Itch.io product. This one I discovered via Twitter while out plant shopping with my wife.  That means I was pushing the cart while high on antihistamines while she shopped.  I was able to buy it, download and read it on my phone so that was nice.

Covens
by Gabriel "Gabo" Kerr

This game is described as "about a coven of witches trying to survive in present-day small-town America."

As always, I will be following my rules for these reviews.

The PDF is four pages, with 1 for the cover and 2 1⁄4 for text. The price is $2.50, so we are still at that $1 per page average.

You work together to create a coven of witches. The game says "Small town America," but honestly, it could be anywhere. There are three stats (Power, Resources, and Influence) with five levels for each. You get five points to distribute.  

From here your coven is given a problem and you and the other players figure out how to solve it. You all add whatever scores you think will aid the problem. Roll the dice and add them up. A TN of 3 is a super easy task and one of 15 is near impossible.

And that is pretty much it.  

I like the idea and might adapt it for internal coven conflicts and drama, that might be fun. Especially since I have a rule in my games that witches can't actually harm each other, but something like this could bring a lot of fun to the table. 


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Friday, March 4, 2022

TTRPGs for Trans Rights in Texas!

In a move that shocks no one, Texas (and it is always fucking Texas) Governor Greg Abbott signed an order to classify medical transitioning for transgender youth as child abuse.   Again, I am not surprised because just like his abortion doctor bounty of a while back the purpose here is not to protect the children (as a state that ranks 34th in k-12 education and 43rd in infant mortality they obviously don't care about real children) but instead about bein cruel. 

I say this and can't stress this enough, Fuck Texas

Thankfully there are still good people. And there are an absolute ton of them over on Itch.io

I don't spend a lot of time over there and I don't sell my RPGs through there.  It is a very indie sort of scene and I have found some good things there but I don't really "click" with the place.  That's fine we both can still live very happily.  But in this one case, we are in 100% agreement. 

Creators on Itch.io are offering up a bundle of TTRPG PDFs to support trans rights in Texas. 

TTRPGs for Trans Rights in Texas!

TTRPGs for Trans Rights in Texas!

https://itch.io/b/1308/ttrpgs-for-trans-rights-in-texas

You saw that price right.  For $5 you get 493 games!  That is just a fraction more than a penny a game.

If you find 10 in that lot that you like then it is still a deal.

The funds will go to support two organizations: Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) and Organización Latina de Trans en Texas (OLTT).

Many, many kudos to Rue (ilananight) for setting this up.  

As you can see this is already past its funding goal with a month still to go!  Given the markdown of these games, I think it would be great if they got 10 times their goal!

So spare a Lincoln (that's $5 for everyone outside of the US) here and support a very worthy cause. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Kickstart Your Weekend: Vaesen RPG – Mythic Britain & Ireland

There are few things I love more than Creepy Folk horror and one of those things is creepy Gothic Horror.  I was quite pleased to see that Free League Publishing of Sweden was doing a horror Mythic Britain and Ireland, you know it has my attention.

Vaesen RPG – Mythic Britain & Ireland

Vaesen RPG – Mythic Britain & Ireland

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1192053011/vaesen-rpg-mythic-britain-and-ireland?ref=theotherside

I picked up Vaesen based on solid recommendations while I was at Gen Con this past year.  The game is gorgeous, but I have yet to play it.  But this?  This looks like it was tailor-made for me.

Once again the art looks amazing and the game itself?  Well, I am hooked and already thinking of a game I could run with it.  

Check it out and throw them a Krona or two.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Witch Week Review: Charm

Ok, this is not a witch RPG per se, but that is not going to stop me.  

Also, this one appeared on my doorstep and I have no idea if I ordered it, if it was sent to me, or what. I looked back and I have no interaction with the author or the company Strange Machine Games (SMG).  

So let's get into it.

Charm RPG
by Jeff Mechlinski, illustrations bt Yimi Jian "Meammy"

Charm is a "universal" RPG designed to be quick and usable across any genre or playstyle.  It advertises itself as being portable enough to keep your character sheet in your pocket and use a dice roller app to play.

For this review, I am considering both the softcover physical book and the PDF.  The book is 158 pages, 8" x 8" format. The covers are color, the interior art is black & white.

A quick note about the art. I like it, it does have a comic-book, almost anime style to it, but it also fits the game well. 

The first 40 pages cover the basic rules and the remaining 100 or so cover the seven different sample "worlds" you can play in.  

The rules are pretty simple, roll a d20 (sometimes with a d6) to get over a particular Target Number set by the GM.  Greater levels of success or failure result in added effects.  Rolls can be modified.  You add the d6 when your character is particularly good at something. 

Characters regardless of the Power Level of the game are assumed to be good at what they do.  So out of the gate this game is going to have a more "Cinematic" feel to it.  A thief will almost always be able to break into a place or steal something for example.  Rolling occurs only when there is a chance of failure, combat (or other opposed rolls) or the GM needs it.  

The Challenge Threshold, or target numbers, are pretty easy to use and memorize, so players and GMS will catch on very quickly.  The levels are all multiples of 3, so abstraction of the rules is easy.

Characters are built using some basic abilities in a way that reminds me of Fate, but a little crunchier.  To me this is a GOOD thing. I find Fate a little too fluffy for my needs. This includes the use of a similar term, Aspects. At first level you have three aspects rated at 4, 3 and 2 points.  As you level up you can add points to these or gain new aspects. A list of sample aspects is given with guidelines on what else can work.

And that is it.  Not difficult to learn and certainly very easy to play the first time.  Get together with some friends, decide on a world and then make characters with various aspects. You are ready to go.

While not as crunchy as say GURPS it is crunchier than Fate or FUDGE.  I'd put it just south of True 20 and Unisystem in that regard.

The seven sample scenarios are:

  •  Action 5 News: You are the city's most elite local news team! It isn't easy staying on top. You'll need to pull together all your guile and charisma to keep the number 1 spot.
  •  Temporal Raiders: Travel time, seeking the ultimate heist. Ally with powerful historical figures, change history, be your own grandfather. What could go wrong?
  •  Dustbound: Take on the role of a god-touched gunslinger in a bleak world of dust and decay. Fight Oni, rival gunslingers, and vengeful townsfolk.
  •  Mystery Incorporated: Jeepers, guys.  Play as a gang of kids, or possibly a lovable pet, who solve mysteries using their astonishing meddling abilities.
  •  Pact of Night: Small town woes meet big monster drama. Play a Vampire or Werewolf as you balance your life with the humans during the day and beasts at night.
  •  Onitech: You exist in a high-tech world ruled by demon masters. Civility has superseded morality, leading to a perverted and deadly state of affairs.
  •  Asylum Reflections: In Victorian London, people are being replaced with mirrored doubles. Uncover the duplicitous mystery in this dark world.  
Actually, these all sound like a lot of fun.  I have to admit it was the Action 5 News that really grabbed me at first.  In this one, you are not likely to get into deadly combat, but your social "hit points" could take some damage.  No they don't call them "hit points" but that is my translation to my readers.  I will admit, years ago I tinkered with a True 20 idea of newspaper reporters, tabloid writers and news bloggers as a game. When Fate came around I tried it in that too.  Never really got it to jell the way I wanted.  Action 5 News though does this now for me.  A few EASY tweaks, and to be fair all tweaks in this game are easy, and I can run it like I was planning some 20 years ago.

Mystery Incorporated practically jumps off the page and begs me to run something with it. 

If I had a complaint at all it is that book makes me jump all over the place to get the information I need.  For example there are lot of "see page XX" (no actual xx though, they do have page numbers.)
So reading about Power Level on page 11 I need to jump to page 25 to get information on aspects. There are a few of these. Now to be fair you quickly figure out where things are and how to get to them fast.  But maybe a character creation flowchart might be nice for first time players.

Still, there is a lot to like about this game.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Witch Week Review: Kids on Brooms

Let's go with one I have had since the Summer.  I love the concept and can't wait to see what I do with it.

Kids on Brooms

Before I get too far into this review I want to start off by saying how much I love the art by Heather Vaughan.  It just fits, or more importantly sets, the tone of this book.  This could have been a cheap "Harry Potter" knock off, but Vaughan's art makes it feel darker and more dangerous.  The kids in her art have power, but they also have fear, and even a little hope. So kudos to Vaughan for really setting this book up for success from the cover and into the book.

Again for this review, I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the physical copy I picked up at my FLGS.

The game is 96 pages, roughly digest-sized. The art is full color and used to great effect.  The layout is crisp and clean and very easy to read.

Kids on Brooms (KoB) is a new (newish) game from the same team that gave us Kids on Bikes. Authors Doug Levandowski and Jonathan Gilmour with artist Heather Vaughan. New to the team is author Spenser Starke.  If Kids on Bikes was "Stranger Things" inspired then the obvious inspiration here for Kids on Brooms is Harry Potter.  If it were only a Harry Potter pastiche then there would be nothing to offer us.  

The game follows in the footsteps of many newer games in that narrative control is shared. The players help decide what is going on.  So our Session 0 for this game is to have the players come up with their school.  This can be just about anything to be honest, Harry Potter's Hogwarts is the obvious model, but I also got some solid Night School from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina as well. Also, I could see a Breakbills Academy easily being created here, though the characters in Magicians were older.  These students are very much of the 12+, highschool age, variety. 

The players create their school and even provide some background history and some rumors. It all looks rather fun to be honest.  This section starts with the first of many questionnaires to do your world-building.  None are very long, but they are rather helpful to have. I should point out that prior to this school building you are tasked with setting the boundaries of the gameplay. What is and what is not involved.  A LOT of people think this is a means to stifle creativity. It is not. It is a means to keep everyone at the table comfortable and playing what they want.  I mean a drug-fueled sex party prior to a big magical battle is not something you would find in Harry Potter, but it is the exact sort of thing that happens in Magicians or Sabrina.  

Something else that is a nice added touch is talking about the systems of power in the game world. So figuring out things like "This form of bigotry exists (or doesn't) in the game world and is different/same/better/worse than the real world."  To quote Magicians, "magic comes from pain." Happy people in that world are not spell-casters. Quentin, the star, was depressive and suicidal. The other characters had their own issues, or as Quentin would say "we are fucked in our own ways, as usual."  To ignore this page is to rob your game of something that makes your world fuller.

Character creation is equally a group effort, though the mechanic's piece of it is largely up to the player. The player selects one of the Tropes from the end of the book, these are only starting points and are more flexible than say a D&D Class. You introduce your character (after all they are young and this is the first day of class) and then you answer some questions about your character to build up the relationships.

Mechanics wise your six abilities, Brains, Brawn, Fight, Flight, Charm, and Grit are all given a die type; d4 to d20, with d10 being average.  You roll on these dice for these abilities to get above a target number set by the Game Master. 

As expected there are ways to modify your rolls and even sometimes get a reroll (a "Lucky Break").  The "classes" (not D&D, but academic levels) also gain some benefits.  You also gain some strengths and flaws. So if it sounds like there are a lot of ways to describe your character then yes! There is. 

There is a chapter on Magic and this game follows a streamlined version of the Mage-like (as opposed to D&D-like, or WitchCraftRPG-like) magic system.  You describe the magic effect and the GM adjudicated how it might work.  Say my witch Taryn wants to move a heavy object. Well that would be a Brawn roll, but I say that since her Brawn is lower and instead I think her Grit should come into play.  So that is how it works. Rather nice really.

At this point, I should say that you are not limited to playing students. You can also play younger faculty members too.

 Filling out the details of your character involves answering some questions and getting creative with other ideas. You also fill out your class schedule, since there are mechanical benefits to taking some classes.


The mechanics as mentioned are simple.  Roll higher than the difficulty. Difficulty levels are given on page 45, but range from 1 to 2 all the way up to 20 or more. Rolls and difficulties can be modified by almost anything. The first game might involve the looking up of mods and numbers for a bit, but it gets very natural very quickly.  As expected there are benefits to success above and beyond the target difficulty numbers and consequences for falling short of the numbers. 

Some threats are covered and there is a GM section.  But since a lot of the heavy lifting on this game is in the laps of the players the GM section is not long.

There is also a Free Edition of Kids on Brooms if you want to see what the game is about.  It has enough to get you going right away.

This game is really quite fantastic and there is so much going on in it. Personally, I plan on using it as a supplement to my own Generation HEX game from NIGHT SHIFT.  

Plays Well With Others, Generation HEX, and my Traveller Envy

I am SO glad I read this after I had already submitted my own ms in for Generation HEX in NIGHT SHIFT.

Thankfully I can see a game where I would use both systems to help expand my universe more.  The questionnaires here for both the school and the characters would also work well for a Generation HEX game.  In this case though everyone knows about magic and the school is AMPA.  OR Use the background of the hidden school like in KoB and then add in some GenHEX ideas.


So let me take another character today, Taryn, Larina's daughter.  Taryn is my "Teen Witch" and a bit of a rebel.  She was my "embrace the stereotype" witch, but has grown a little more since then.  Compared to her mother her magic came late (Larina was 6, Taryn was 12) so she feels like she has a lot to make up for. Her father is a Mundane and her half-sister has no magic at all.

Taryn is cocky, self-confident, but also a little reckless. Now that she has magic she is convinced it can solve all her problems.  She feels she has a lot to prove and is afraid there is some dark secret in her past (spoiler there is).

She spends her nights in an underground, illegal broom racing circuit.  She is very fast and has already made a lot of cash and a few enemies.  She is worried that one of her secrets, her red/green colorblindness, will affect her races. 

Her other weakness is guys on fast motorcycles. She is particularly fond of the Kawaski Ninja Carbon. Yeah, she judges people based on their bikes.  

Speed is her addiction of choice. Not the drug, the velocity.  Though that might be an issue in the future.


I find I am able to depict her rather well in Kids on Brooms, NIGHT SHIFT and Dark Places & Demogorgons.  I even gave her a try in the Great American Witch (she is Craft of Lilith).

This game has a bunch of solid potential and I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Witch Week Review: The Great American Witch

Let's start off the week with a game that is brand new.  How new? It was only two months ago that I was interviewing the author and designer, Christopher Grey, for the Kickstarter.

Last week or so I go my physical copy in the mail and codes for my DriveThruRPG downloads.  That was fast.  So such a speedy response deserves a review. 

The Great American Witch
by Christopher Grey

For this review, I am considering the hardcover, letter-sized book, and the PDF.  On DriveThruRPG you get two different layouts of the core book (1 and 2 page spreads), and several ancillary files for the covens and the crafts.  I was a Kickstart backer and got my products via that. Both the hardcover and the pdfs are available at DriveThruRPG.

The Great American Witch is 162 pages, all full color, with full color covers.  The art is by Minerva Fox and Tithi Luadthong. There are also some photos that I recognize from various stock art services, some I have even used myself.  This is not a criticism of the book; the art, all the art, is used effectively and sets the tone and mood of the book well.

The rule system is a Based on the Apocalypse World Engine variant.  Over the last couple of years I have had mixed, to mostly negative feelings about the Apocalypse World Engine.  Nothing to do with the system itself, but mainly due to how many designers have been using it.  I am happy to report that the version being used in TGAW is a stripped-down version that works better for me.

It is also published by Gallant Knight Games, who has a solid reputation.  So out of the gate and barely cracking open the book it has a lot of things going for it.

The Great American Witch is a cooperative, story-telling game of witches fighting against perceived injustices in the world.  I say "perceived" because of what injustices the witches fight against is going to largely depend on the witches (and the players) themselves. The framework of the game is built on Grey's earlier work, The Great American Novel.  TGAW is expanded from the earlier game.

Like many modern games, TGAW has a Session 0, for everyone to come together and talk about what the game should be about, what the social interaction rules are, and what the characters are.  The older I get the more of a fan of Session 0 I become. As a Game Master, I want to make sure everyone is invested in the game, I want to be sure everyone is going to have a good time. So yes. Session 0 all the way.  The first few pages detail what should be part of your Session 0.  It's actually pretty good material that can be adapted to other games. 

The game also wears its politics on its sleeve. Frankly, I rather like this. It helps that I also happen to agree with the author and game here. But besides that, there is something else here.  This game takes the idea, or even the realities and the mythologies of the witch persecutions and "Burning Times" and revisions them into the modern age.  It is not a bridge to far to see how the forces of the Patriarchy and anti-women legislation, politics, and religion of the 16th to 17th centuries can be recreated in the 21st century. After all, isn't "The Handmaids Tale" one of the most popular and awarded television programs right now? There is obviously something to this.


The main narrative of the game comes from the players themselves.  The Guide (GM) plays a lesser role here than in other games; often as one running the various injustices, NPCs, or other factions the players/characters/witches will run up against.  The system actually makes it easy for all players to have a character and rotate the guide duties as needed.

True to its roots games are broken down into"Stories" and  "Chapters" and who has the narrative control will depend on the type of chapter.  A "Story" is a game start to finish. Be that a one-shot or several different chapters over a long period of time.  A "Montage" chapter is controlled by the players. A "Menace" chapter is controlled by the Guide. A "Mundane" chapter is usually controlled by the player and the details of that chapter are for that character alone.  "Meeting" chapters involve the characters all together and are controlled by them. "Mission" chapters are the main plot focus that move the story forward. "Milestones" are what they sound like. This is where the witch would "level up."

The game uses three d6s for the rare dice resolution. Most times players use a 2d6 and try to roll a 7 or better. "Weal" and "Woe" conditions can augment this roll. The author makes it clear that you should roll only when the outcome is in doubt.  There are a lot of factors that can modify the rolls and the conflicts faced.  It is assumed that most conflicts will NOT be dealt with with a simple roll of 7 or better. The author has made it clear in the book and elsewhere that more times than average a conflict is not just going to go away like defeating a monster in D&D.  Conflicts are akin to running uphill, that can be accomplished, but they will take work and they will not be the only ones.

Once gameplay is covered we move into creating the player character witches. The book gives the player questions that should be answered or at least considered when creating a witch character. Character creation is a group effort, so the first thing you create is your group's Coven.  This also helps in determining the type of game this will be as different covens have different agendas.  There are nine different types of Covens; the Divine, Hearth, Inverted, Oracle, the Storm, Sleepers, the Town, the Veil, and Whispers. Each coven has different specialties and aspects. Also, each Coven has a worksheet to develop its own unique features, so one Coven of the Storm is not exactly the same as another Coven of the Storm from another city or even part of the city.  These are not the Traditions of Mage, the Covenants of the WitchCraftRPG, or even the Traditions of my witch books.  These are all very local and should be unique to themselves.  Once the coven is chosen then other details can be added. This includes things like how much resources does the coven have? Where does it get its money from? Legal status and so on. 


If Covens cover the group of witches, then each witch within the coven has their own Craft.  These are built of of archetypes of the Great Goddess.  They are Aje, the Hag (Calilleach), Hekate, Lilith, Mary (or Isis), Spider Grandmother, and Tara.  These are the Seven Crafts and they are the "sanctioned" and most widespread crafts, but there are others.  Each Craft, as you can imagine, gives certain bonuses and penalties to various aspects of the witch and her magic. Aje for example is not a good one if you want a high value in Mercy, but great if you want a high number in Severity and mixed on Wisdom.   All crafts are also subdivided into Maiden, Mother, and Crone aspects of the witch's life.   

Character creation is rather robust and by the end, you have a really good idea who your witch is and what they want.

The Game Master's, or Guide's, section covers how to run the game. Among other details, there is a section on threats. While there are a lot of potential threats the ones covered in the book are things like demons, vampires, other witches, the fey, the Illuminati, ghosts and other dead spirits, old gods and good old-fashioned mundane humans. 

The end of the book covers the worksheets for the various Covens and Crafts.  You use the appropriate Craft Sheets for a character.

The PDF version of the book makes printing these out very easy.  It would be good for every player to have the same Coven sheet, or a photocopy of the completed one, and then a Craft sheet for their witch.

While the game could be played with as little two players, a larger group is better, especially if means a variety of crafts can be represented.  Here the crafts can strengthen the coven, but also provide some inter-party conflict. Not in-fighting exactly, but differences on how to complete a Mission or deal with a threat.  After all, no one wants to watch a movie where the Avengers all agree on a course of action from the start and the plans go as though up and there are no complications.  That's not drama, that is a normal day at work.  These witches get together to change the world or their corner of it, but sometimes, oftentimes, the plans go sideways.  This game supports that type of play.

The Great American Witch works or fails based on the efforts of the players.  While the role of the GM/Guide may be reduced, the role and responsibilities of the players are increased.  It is also helpful to have players that are invested into their characters and have a bit of background knowledge on what they want their witch to be like.  To this end the questions at the start of the book are helpful.

That right group is the key. With it this is a fantastic game and one that would provide an endless amount of stories to tell.  I am very pleased I back this one.

Plays Well With Others, War of the Witch Queens and my Traveller Envy

I just can't leave well enough alone.  I have to take a perfectly good game and then figure out things to do with it above and beyond and outside of it's intended purposes.  SO from here on out any "shortcomings", I find are NOT of this game, but rather my obsessive desire to pound a square peg into a round hole.


Part 1: Plays Well With Others

The Great American Witch provides a fantastic framework to be not just a Session 0 to many of the games I already play, but also a means of providing more characterization to my characters of those games.

Whether my "base" game is WitchCraftRPG or Witch: Fated Souls, The Great American Witch could provide me with far more detail.  In particular, the character creation questions from The Great American Witch and Witch: Fated Souls could be combined for a more robust description of the character. 

Taking the example from WitchCraft, my character could be a Gifted Wicce.  Even in the WitchCraft rules there is a TON of variety implicit and implied in the Wicce.  Adding on a "layer" of TGAW gives my Wicce a lot more variety and helps focus their purpose.  While reading TGAW I thought about my last big WitchCraft game "Vacation in Vancouver."  Members of the supernatural community were going missing, the Cast had to go find out why.  The game was heavy on adult themes (there was an underground sex trafficking ring that catered to the supernatural community) and required a LOT of participation and cooperation to by the player to make it work. It was intense. At one point my witch character was slapped in an S&M parlor and I swear I felt it! But this is also the same sort of game that could be played with TGAW. Granted, today I WAY tone down the adult elements, but that was the game everyone then agreed to play.  The same rules in TGAW that allow for "safe play" also allow for this.  The only difference is that those rules are spelled out ahead of time in TGAW. 

Jumping back and forth between the systems, with the same characters and players, and a lot of agreement on what constitutes advancement across the systems would be a great experience.  

I could see a situation where I could even add in some ideas from Basic Witches from Drowning Moon Studios.  

Part 2: Traveller Envy

This plays well into my Traveller Envy, though this time these are all RPGs.  Expanding on the ideas above I could take a character, let's say for argument sake my iconic witch Larina, and see how she manifests in each game.  Each game giving me something different and a part of the whole.

Larina "Nix" Nichols
CJ Carrella's WitchCraft RPG:
Gifted Wicce
Mage: The Ascension: Verbena
Mage: The Awakening: Path Acanthus, Order Mysterium
Witch: Fated Souls: Heks
NIGHT SHIFT: Witch
The Great American Witch: The Craft of Lilith OR The Craft of Isis.*

Larina Nix
There is no "one to one" correspondence, nor would I wish there to be. In fact, some aspects of one Path/Order/Tradition/Fate/Craft will contradict another.  "The Craft of Lilith" in GAW is a good analog to WitchCraft's "Twilight Order" and the "Lich" in Witchcraft: Fated Souls.  But for my view of my character, this is how to best describe her. 

* Here I am already trying to break the system by coming up with a "Craft of Astarte" which would be the intersection of Lilith and Isis.  Don't try this one at home kids, I am what you call a professional.  

Part 3: War of the Witch Queens

Every 13 years the witch queens gather at the Tredecim to discuss what will be done over the next thirteen years for all witches. Here they elect a new Witch High Queen.

One of the building blocks of my War of the Witch Queens is to take in as much detail as I can from all the games I can.  This is going to be a magnum opus, a multiverse spanning campaign.

What then can the Great American Witch do for me here?  That is easy.  Using the coven creation rules I am planning to create the "coven" of the five main witch queen NPCs.  While the coven creation rules are player-focused, these will be hidden from the players since the witches are all NPCs.  They are based on existing characters, so I do have some external insight into what is going on with each one, but the choices will be mine alone really. 

Looking at these witches and the covens in TGAW they fit the Coven of the Hearth the best.

Coven of the Hearth, also known as the Witches' Tea Circle (tea is very important to witches).  
Five members, representing the most powerful witches in each of the worlds the Witch Queens operate in.
Oath: To work within witchcraft to provide widespread (multiverse!) protection for witches
Holy Day: Autumnal Equinox. Day of Atonement: Sumer Solstice. Which was their day of formal formation as well.
Hearth: A secured build in an Urban setting.
Sanctuary: Lots of great stuff here, and all of it fits well.
Connections & Resources: Organization charged with finding those in need.

Going to the Coven Worksheet:

Resources: Wealthy coven (they are Queens)
Makes money? A shop.  Let's say that the "Home, Heart & Hearth" stores from my own Pumpkin Spice Witch book are the means to keep this operation funded.
Distribution: Distributed based on need.
Status: Mainstream.  They ARE the mainstream.
Importance? Witches need to come together.
Mundanes? Mundanes are important. but not for the reasons listed. Mundanes are the greatest threat.
Influence: Extraordinary.
Members: Five or six local, but millions in the multiverse.
Authority: Through legacy and reputation

Wow. That worked great, to be honest.

Here's hoping for something really big to come from this.